updated 12/5/2009 11:07:09 AM ET 2009-12-05T16:07:09

Italian tax police say they have seized a secret stash of masterpieces from the disgraced founder of a collapsed dairy company.

Police in Parma seized 19 works belonging to Parmalat founder Calisto Tanzi from the basements and attics of three apartments. Among the masterpieces were paintings by Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Cezanne, Modigliani, Manet and Degas. Authorities estimated the total value at more than $150 million.

Police showed some of the paintings to journalists near Parmalat's headquarters Saturday.

Italian courts have ruled that Tanzi bore the brunt of responsibility for the 2003 collapse of Parmalat under billions of dollars of debt. Many small investors lost life savings. Tanzi has been convicted of market-rigging.

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